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Lower Manhattan, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, One World Trade Center, The Oculus, The Woolworth Building, Applied Imagination
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 centerpiece in The Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool. Lower Manhattan Replicas: One World Trade Center, The Oculus, The Woolworth Building created by Applied Imagination (Carole Di Tosti)

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show Wonderland

Regardless of how busy I am, I always attend the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, NY. One of the most well attended of the NYBG’s shows, along with their Orchid Show and special summer exhibits, the Holiday Train Show holds lustrous wonders. And whenever possible before the start of the show, I enjoy speaking with the Applied Imagination personnel who they have conceptualized, designed, and created the innovations for the NYBG Holiday Train Show since its inception.

NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination (Carole Di Tosti)
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Pennsylvania Station replica, Applied Imagination
Historic Pennsylvania Station replica (building demolished 1964), NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

Now in its 27th year, the show’s expansion continues. Indeed, more trains have been added. Also, the materials used to perk up the displays appear fresh and more vibrantly colorful than ever. The introductory film, referencing Applied Imagination Studio workshops in Alexandra, Kentucky, discloses a behind-the-scenes look. From Alexandria, the miniature botanical sculptures rise from their humble plant-part beginnings.

Applied Imagination Studio, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
Applied Imagination Studio in Alexandria, Kentucky, crafting a replica. (photo by Carole Di Tosti-courtesy of the NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 introductory film)
Laura Busse Dolan, Paul Busse, Applied Imagination Studio, Alexandria, Kentucky, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
(L to R): Leslie Salka, Laura Busse Dolan, Paul Busse, Applied Imagination Studio in Alexandria, Kentucky, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (photo by Carole Di Tosti, courtesy of the NYBG introductory film for the Train Show 2018)

In the film, Applied Imagination staff including Leslie Salka and Laura Busse Dolan and the NYBG team including Karen Daubmann and Todd Forrest explain which replicas are their favorites. Each year Applied Imagination adds excitement and grandeur to its New York collection. This year the newest replicas shine in the reflecting pool of the Palms of the World Gallery.

Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
Replicas of the ferry and buildings in lower Manhattan, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, ferry replica detail, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

The best way to see the Holiday Train Show is to visit a few times. One time, visit with family. Especially bring children who will adore the variety of trains, from trolleys and passenger liners to freights, locomotives, and diesels. And come on Member Day. Then you will receive a 20% discount in the Garden Shop to spend on gifts. Also, meander through the conservatory. Take the time to appreciate close up the intricate detail of each replica. Compare the plant parts to architectural structures and materials, like roofs, cornices, columns, bricks, slate, and stone. Applied Imagination craftspersons design the replicas to miniature scale. Constructing with precision, they follow archived historic photographs.

NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Building completed 1956-1959, Model completed 2001, roof made of shelf fungus (Carole Di Tosti)
New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination; the steps are made of shelf fungus (Carole Di Tosti)

Only when I move slowly do I appreciate the botanical replicas of buildings that once stood in high esteem during New York’s Gilded Age. These buildings, such as the Senator William Andrews Clark House, were so expensive to maintain that their owners demolished them, making way for modern apartment buildings to house the growing urban population.

The Jewish Museum, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
The Jewish Museum replica is on the left, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

In the case of The Samuel J. Tilden House (home of the National Arts Club), the Morris-Jumel Mansion, and the Felix M. Warburg House (The Jewish Museum), un-affordable grand mansions became museums, funded by non profit organizations. By profoundly, carefully viewing the structures in the Holiday Train Show, you take a stroll back into the history of New York. And what an amazing and precious stroll this is, for it inspires your imagination to reflect about the past. And this reflection grounds you front and center in the present.

Rockefeller enter, Channel Gardens, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Rockefeller Center replica, Channel Gardens, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Rockefeller enter, Channel Gardens, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
Rockefeller Center Channel Gardens, angels, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Rockefeller Center, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Angel detail of plant parts, Rockefeller Center, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

Whether I’m perusing the older replicas or the newer additions, I appreciate how the staff of Applied Imagination and the NYBG team collaborated for months beforehand. After they agree on the innovations and drawings and their placement in the conservatory, they construct the replicas from botanicals (sticks, fungus, moss, leaves, gourds, bark, acorns, nut shells, pepper flakes, etc.). Some of these plant parts come from the fields of Alexandria, Kentucky. Other bits and pieces (various gourd parts, etc.) come from suppliers.

Park Avenue Armory, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
Park Avenue Armory (Building completed 1881, Model completed 2008), NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Applied Imagination
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 2018, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Applied Imagination (Carole Di Tosti)
Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

After the construction, Applied Imagination ships the replicas to the NYBG. Then additional fun begins. Within the span of two weeks, volunteers and staff set the stored and new models in beautiful plantings. The arrangements accommodate permanent installations of conservatory trees, etc. There is also a variety of completely new floral plantings (orchids, violets, bromeliads, cyclamen, Christmas Cactus, lilies, etc.) and various ferns, bamboo, ivy, pothos, dracena, Norfolk Island Pines and other shrubs and greenery. Volunteers and staff position all these to complement the 25-gauge model trains sweeping down a half mile of railroad track.

NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Row Houses, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

Quaintly the trains peek out from low-hanging branches and water displays. Then they emerge and whip around the tracks like racers. In the 3,000-foot expansion a myriad of types of trains fly above on trestles and bridges. Below, locomotives, freights, trolleys, and passenger liners whoosh around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, bustling through replicas that include Grand Central Station and the original Pennsylvania Station (demolished in 1964). What a fantasy wonderland! It’s an unparalleled treasure for New Yorkers as well as for tourists who come to the city for the holidays.

Elephantine Colossus Hotel, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Replica of the Elephantine Colossus Hotel, Coney Island, burned down in 1896; the tusks are banana gourds. NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Elephantine Colossus Hotel, Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Models of the Elephantine Colossus Hotel and Luna Park Gate, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

As the pièce de resistance this year, the Holiday Train Show presents Lower Manhattan, the birthplace of New York City, as its star attraction. Of course the central feature is One World Trade Center. Branches form the sides of the building and the emphasis is on freedom and a resurrection from the destruction of 2001. Also in the Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool you will find the replica of the Beaux-Arts Battery Maritime Building. Gliding in stasis on the pool surface are two vintage ferry boat replicas (Bronx and Manhattan).

One World Trade Center, the Oculus, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
One World Trade Center, the Oculus and ferry building replicas, Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, One World Trade Center, Oculus
Detail Oculus, One World Trade Center, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)
Applied Imagination, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018
Replica detail of the Oculus, lower Manhattan, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

Other buildings include the Battery Park Control House, the 60-story Woolworth Building, and the Terminal Warehouse (1890). The crown jewel replica, One World Trade Center, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth-tallest in the world. The unique Oculus replica is placed at the foot of One World Trade. The Oculus is a terminal that opened in 2016 and connects 11 lines of NYC’s subways, New Jersey’s PATH rail system, and the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal.

NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018, Applied Imagination
Replicas of ferry and buildings, lower Manhattan, NYBG Holiday Train Show 2018 (Carole Di Tosti)

For specific programming, go to the New York Botanical Garden website. Look for Bar Car Nights on select Fridays and Saturdays (December 15, 21, 22, 28, 29; January 5, 12). Warm up around the fire pits in the Leon Levy Visitor Center. For the artist in you, watch live ice-sculpting demonstrations. Or sing along with dueling pianos in the Pine Tree Cafe and listen to roving a cappella groups.

Finally, enjoy former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for a special poetry reading. Collins will select 12 winning poems by students submitted to the Kid’s Poetry Contest. The poems will be displayed at NYBG during the Holiday Train Show. And the student authors will share their work during this special reading on Sunday, December 16 at 2 p.m. For more information about how to enter the Kids’ Poetry Contest visit http://www.nybg.org/poets.

This season’s New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 2018 ends on 21 January, 2019.

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